Government launches BharatNet phase 2 project

Yolanda Curtis
November 14, 2017

With an outlay of around Rs34,000 crore-to provide high-speed broadband the government aims to connect 1.5 lakh panchayats through 10 lakh kms of additional optical fiber and give bandwidth to telecom players at almost 75% cheaper price for broadband and WiFi services in rural areas. The aim of BharatNet Phase I was to provide fibre connectivity to 1 lakh gram panchayats.

RJio has paid a subscription fee of Rs 13 crore, Airtel Rs 5 crore, Vodafone Rs 11 lakh while Idea has paid Rs 5 lakh for buying bandwidth. The first phase of BharatNet will be completed by the end of the year. As per official data, broadband services have already been started in more than 48,000 panchayats and over 75,000 panchayats are ready for the services. The government is also using rugged and low-maintenance equipment manufactured domestically and technology developed by state-sponsored Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT).

BharatNet, earlier known as National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project, is part of Narendra Modi government's Digital India initiatives, which also include setting up of SWAN (State Wide Area Network) for government offices and NKN (National Knowledge Network) for all educational institutes.

The DoT had significantly increased the pace of implementation during the last six months to complete Phase I. Under BharatNet Phase I, Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) connectivity has reached in over 1, 00, 000 Gram Panchayats (GPs) across different States in the country.

The proposal for offering Rs 3600 crore subsidy to telecos assisting the government in the BharatNet project was originally presented before the Union Cabinet in July.

Memorandum of understandings were also signed between the DoT and seven states, including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Jharkhand and Gujarat. Under BharatNet Phase I, the government has set up 15,000 wi-fi hotspots, of which around 11,000 are in rural areas and the rest in semi-rural areas.

State-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited will roll out optical fibre in eight states, taking optical fibre connectivity in India from 10 lakh km to 20 lakh km, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said. So, we will provide viability gap funding of around $550 million (around Rs 3600 crore) to telecom operators.

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